Gov’t briefing on Bersih threat comes unstuck

By Terence Netto
Jul 6, 11 | MalaysiaKini

A briefing yesterday by the police and the Election Commission meant to give credence to government claims that the planned Bersih march was fraught with the threat of violence came unstuck when it ran into a thicket of sceptical questions from those being briefed.

Present at the briefing which was held in a leading hotel in Kuala Lumpur even as Bersih’s top leaders were being granted an audience by the king at Istana Negara, were some 30 members comprising leaders of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), Suhakam, and a couple of NGOs.

Arranged by the Prime Minister’s Department, the briefing was supposed to have been headed by the inspector-general of police, but he was not able to make it.

In the event, senior officials from the Special Branch deputised for him. But neither they nor the Election Commission chief, who led off the briefing, succeeded in parrying the sceptical thrust of the questions they drew from the briefed.

Sources who attended say by the time the wobbly affair ended four-and-a-half hours after its start at 2.30pm, the government side was left wondering if they had severely overestimated the credulity of the attendees.

The briefing, moderated by Minister in the PM’s Department Koh Tsu Koon, was prompted by a statement from the MCCBCHST issued days earlier that affirmed Bersih’s right to engage in a peaceful demonstration of their concerns, which were for more integrity and transparency to the electoral process.

In an apparent attempt to dispel doubts about the integrity of the electoral process generated by Bersih’s much publicised qualms, Aziz Yusof, the EC chair, began yesterday’s briefing by holding forth on the authenticity of measures instituted by the EC.

But when he suddenly and over a lengthy span engaged moderator Koh in a private tete-a-tete, seemingly oblivious of his audience, an irate attendee chided him and said the episode was emblematic of the EC’s lack of independence and undue deference to the powers-that-be.

“You are more interested in pleasing the government than in clearing our doubts,” the EC chair was chastised.

Stung and chagrined, Aziz’s brief careened to a halt.

Why Jeyakumar, not Ibrahim Ali?

But top-notch personnel from the Special Branch who followed in Aziz’s wake did not fare better.

Senior Assistant Commissioner Soffian Mohd Makinuddin, chief assistant director, Department of Extremist Threats, painted a picture of explosive peril lurking in the Bersih march if it were permitted to be held.

He told the audience investigations and arrests thus far had led police to believe that it was hazardous to national security to allow the Bersih march to take place.

His spiel unravelled the minute he was queried as to why – if all he had depicted of the Bersih threat were true – a rabble-rousing Ibrahim Ali of Perkasa was allowed to be free to vent his inflammatory spleen in a supposedly fraught public arena.

Soffian clamped up at the query and became more taciturn when the same questioner followed up by arguing that the detention of Parti Sosialis Malaysia MP for Sungai Siput, Dr Jeyakumar Deveraj, under the Emergency Ordinance 1969 was an abomination given Ibrahim’s freedom to disport in incendiary fashion.

With both the EC chair and the Special Branch luminary down for the count, the leaders from MCCBCHST and the other NGOs stepped up to the plate and drove home the point that the problem with the country was the lack of institutional independence and integrity.

Sans public confidence in institutions like the police force and the EC, they held, questions would always recur about the integrity of an exercise to establish justice and assure the credibility of the elected.

At this point what began as a briefing to bolster the government’s credibility turned out to be an affair where the reasons for its lack thereof were aired.

The supposedly transformed, from the famed Government Transformation Programme, ironically became aware of the need for self-transformation.

  1. #1 by novice101 on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 8:54 pm

    No surprise, when the uncommitted want to convert the initiated and committed this is the natural outcome. With Koh Tzu Koon there the affair lacked the air of authenticity.

    Well done and thanks for speaking up for the silent people who have been smeared and for those detained.

  2. #2 by limkamput on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 9:06 pm

    Now we know who we can do business and who we can’t.

  3. #3 by bruno on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 9:09 pm

    The Umno GOM together with its cohoots the PDRM and the EC thought that it is much easier to coy and intimidate a small audience with the presence of SB officers.They thought that they were able to pressure the few people present to accept the fact that the country can have two sets of laws.They expect the group to come out with a statement after the meeting to support their lopsided laws.But instead they got shit flung directly into their faces.The smart man was the IGP.He excused himself from being present at the last minute.

  4. #4 by isahbiazhar on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 9:11 pm

    Hishammudin should resign from his post for not being able to handle a simple peaceful procession.He should go back to Johor to strengthen the UMNO there because due to his stupidity in declaring even yellow Tshirts as illegal.On checking the internet there were no similar situation in other parts of the world.Thus he has created a history of a kind .From now onwards he should be known as Yellow Tshirt minister.Holding the post of a home miister, his mindset is in question.I do not know whether his advisers had gone wrong or he had vetoed them.Being a lawyer, it is now for Najib to put someone,perhaps Nazri, for the post.Nazri is able to give answers to any situation which at one time is to frighten people by revoking citizenship.We have yet to hear in modern times government threatening their citizens.UMNO ºs latest leaders will see the demise of a party which began with good intention but eroded along the way.If Najib were to call for an election now even his beloved Johore will fall into the oppositon as what had happened in Terengganu.The Bersih 2 incident had shown to the people that UMNO is vengeful and can turn inhuman to uphold their power.The police on theit part should get people with Ph.D to become heads of department as from now onwards they should study the constitution well before they follow the instruction of the home minister.They must also get it in writing because when they are faced with truth of the matter they can convince the public.

  5. #5 by habis on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 9:11 pm

    Mr Koh Tzu Koon has no backbones but all those gimmicks to project the Govt handling of this fiasco only proves that EC and PDRM are stooges acting on the beckoning of their political masters.We the rakyat are NOT CONVINCE of the impartiality of the thePolice and the EC.Government’s credibility is in shambles and lacking in substance.It is a futile attempt to pacify the Anger and Frustrations of peace loving citizens whose only wish is A FAIR CLEAN ELECTION for Malaysia.

  6. #6 by Loh on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 9:53 pm

    Najib suggested that Bersih goes to a stadium. But the Cabinet decided against allowing Bersih using Stadium Merdeka for the meeting. It shows that Najib’s offer does not receive cabinet support. Najib has proven that he no longer commands support in the Cabinet. He should resign as Prime Minister. The parliament should hold a confidence/non-confidence vote on Najib.

    If Najib cannot make good his suggestion to offer Bersih a stadium, but good are Najib’s words?

  7. #7 by limkamput on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 10:56 pm

    You guys should know how a dog chases its own tail. Agong get Bersih to rescind the street demonstration. Bersih agrees in good faith and in reverence to the King. Now, if Bersih wants to hold the gathering in a stadium, Naj!b says you have to ask the Cabinet. The Cabinet says you have to ask the Stadium, the Stadium says you have to ask the Home Minister, the Home Minister says you have to ask the Police, the police say a permit is needed. Hmmm, Bersih, you should know who you can do business with.

  8. #8 by negarawan on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 11:04 pm

    The use of ISA and police harassment against peaceful demonstrators and for wearing anything yellow is the way UMNO governs Malaysia, by use of brutal force, imprisonment, life threats, trumped-up charges. UMNO politicians can make highly seditious statements against other races and religions, no action taken. UMNO politicians can show pornographic video in public, no action taken. Anyone else holding a peaceful candlelight vigil, the police use brutal force and send them to prison, and then the corrupt judiciary charge them with fabricated charges. Is this UMNO corrupt and brutal government what we want? The world community needs to really know how brutal and corrupt UMNO is and impose worlwide sanctions on UMNO politicians, who are worse than Apartheid. Let’s vote UMNO out for a better and brighter Malaysia.

  9. #9 by -e- on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 11:23 pm


    the cabinet has forgotten that the people of federal territory kuala lumpur have voted for the pr (10 out of 11 constituencies).

    kl is an pr’s territory!

  10. #10 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 11:27 pm

    Sounds like Animal Farm where the leading pigs give their messages and intone with sweet persuasion like humans.

    But alas and alack, the pigs of Animal Farm will always be pigs.

    Well done, George Orwell.

  11. #11 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 11:29 pm

    Oops, George Orwell, I am beginning to see “1984” happening in Malaysia.

  12. #12 by cseng on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 11:44 pm

    Just a joke, joke only huh…

    Balik Pulau, Penang, famous for Durian, coincidently they have 2 names after our beloved CM. One is KTK, the other is LGE.

    I have tried KTK, you know what? is almost seedless, hokkein said almost bo-hood la..,

  13. #13 by rockdaboat on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 11:47 pm

    Let them do what they like now and we will do what we like later.

  14. #14 by manusia ada akal on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 11:49 pm

    Alahai, kerajaan sekarang “Cuba tegakkan benang basah”, mustahilkan….

    Seperti terperankap dalam pasir jerlus, semakin meronta, semakin tenggelam.

    Kesedaran kian menerangi…… semoga mengatasi kejahilan akhirnya.

  15. #15 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 - 11:56 pm

    KTK, I suppose you have to earn your keep. And you also know that you cannot do ANYTHING! By attending such gathering as a MINISTER but without any clout, you are a liability to everyone who happens to be associated with you! So please stop speaking on behalf of anyone except yourself! That what you are capable of; maybe you shouldn’t even say that you could act on behalf of your better half! Please just disappear!

  16. #16 by boh-liao on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 12:11 am

    D Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism n Taoism (MCCBCHST), Suhakam, n NGOs MUST encourage their members n rakyat 2 wear yellow (words, OK lah, no need 2 write BERSIH 2.0, write BN KOTOR) as often as possible

    Dis incidence confirms dat rakyat CAN’T TRUST racist n corrupt UmnoB/BN
    Only 1 thing left 2 do, spread d mesej: b ready 2 VOTE 4 PR, kick UmnoB/BN OUT

  17. #17 by passerby on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 3:53 am

    The whole thing is a ploy. They are pushing the issue from one person to another hoping July 9, will pass and become a non-event. In the meantime their thugs will nab the bersih organizers one by one until there is no credible leaders left to lead the event.

    This is the soft approach and if that fail, there will then use the armed forces to shot if necessary. Already they are now being trained with order to shoot to kill.

    Once shooting started and citizen are killed, nobody can predict what will be the out come. We have seen how all the dictators in Middle East have been kicked out and detained under lock-up. The next one will be Kaddafi and no country will want to take him even if he is prepare to leave!

    To day is not the same as in 1969 and it is not a Malay against the non-malay. This bersih is a movement participated by all Malaysian and any shot you fired will be targeted to all peaceful Malaysian who only want to have a fair and clean election. Is it too much to ask as a citizen?

  18. #18 by boh-liao on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 3:55 am

    KTK, pathetic, 沒有良心, 简直是狗彘不若

  19. #19 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 4:47 am

    Now the cabinet has decided that the rally cannot be held in kl….it makes all those sweet talk by PM ludicrous, hypocritical and absolutely stupid.

    Like Pak Lah before him, Najib is too stupid and so must relinguish his post as PM. There is no two ways about it.

    No country can progress on the slippery slopes of the world today with such a stupid man on the driver’s seat.

    And the entire good-for-nothing cabinet …well, you know in your heart of hearts, you know you are ….well, …..good-for-nothing. Or, to use the words of Cseng above, bohood-lah. So much bad faith. All those talks and offers….reeks of maladorous mala fide.

  20. #20 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 5:39 am

    “If the Prime Minister is a man of his word, he will make the appropriate arrangements for the event to proceed peacefully at Stadium Merdeka,” said the coalition.

    But the Prime Minister is a man of many words…mostly nonsensical, malodorous and mala fide.

    There is no integrity in any of his syllables…..he minces them with with all manner of egested waste (excrement)…and expects the nation to swallow it hook, line and sinker.

  21. #21 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 5:50 am

    Their behaviour is obviously sheer incompetence symptomatic the BN govt organisation up and down the heirarchy. However, what is EVEN MORE farcical is Najib’s behaviour ever since the meeting with the Agung.

    The man is pretending that he is not in charge of decisions no one will buy the argument for a second. Not meeting with Bersih, up to the cops, no Stadium Merdeka – these are behaviour of the same self-engrossed politicking bureaucrats of the briefing yesterday, not of leadership.

    If Najib does not want to lead, why don’t he simply quit and let someone else do the job. In fact, its high time the call goes out for him to resign the ENTIRE CABINET, all of them stay out of public office, and call for election. They clearly demonstrate they are NOT qualified to govern and certaintly no leaders in the last few weeks.

    ENOUGH.. Lets get at least get some adults into the govt and its clearly no one from BN..

  22. #22 by k1980 on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 7:29 am

    While the PDRM is busy catching those with yellow T-shirts, this girl was abducted, raped and then murdered, her body chopped up and the remains burnt and disposed of at the two locations. All these done by a 46-year-old guard NOT wearing a yellow T-shirt.

    The girl’s family should sue the police and the pm.

  23. #23 by k1980 on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 7:33 am

    //#14 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL– Like Pak Lah before him, Najib is too stupid //

    Jib is not stupid. How else could the coup in Perak succeed if he is stupid? He is really devious, of the Rasputin type.

  24. #24 by undertaker888 on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 7:48 am

    Bersih rally is illegal but Perkotor led by crusade Ali is legal. tonggek punya gobermen. I will find ten more strangers to vote against them.

  25. #25 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 7:50 am

    There are some powerful people who are just waiting for Bersih proposed march as an excuse to advance their own agendas including ushering Najib the Pak Lah’s way, that could be why whatever he had said about stadium has no effect, and even after what the King said and Bersih’s standing down to diffuse the tension, the ban is not lifted, for it is in the interest of some for the tense state of affairs to continue so that the situtation may be capitalised to advnce their political agendas. Bersih walked straight into their trap by allowing itself to be used by others for advancing their own agendas. (Ambiga’s & NGO’s organisers’ thinking is straight forward and not half as complicated / convoluted as some politicians here). The signs are there where even after Bersih stands down, tension de-escalated, its unlawful status remain, police road blocks that cause gridlock still continue, and Najib is leaving it to police to discuss on the stadium. There are people who want the tense state of affairs to continue for their own purposes.

  26. #26 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 8:08 am

    The calculation is to put the No. 1 in dilemma to choose between either clamping down on Bersih/opposition (so that all his plans to improve his standing with US & rest of the free world along with its other economic reform plans will be given a devastating blow) or alternatively be seen ineffectual, doing nothing and allowing Bersih to continue, in which event some situation will be created to spark trouble (some weapons planted/found have already used as excuse to blame Bersih as bogeyman) for which the PM will be also be blamed for not talking control of things….This using others as bogeyman is standard modus operandi that has happened on more than one occasions in political history of this country when there’s intense in-fighting for positions. The King’s intervention and Bersih’s backing off (reducing tension) works for Najib. It does not work for others who, if they have their ways, would want the tension/stand off between Bersih and the authorities to continue.

  27. #27 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 8:16 am

    ///The man is pretending that he is not in charge of decisions no one will buy the argument for a second///.

    I’d give more than a few seconds to consider buying.

  28. #28 by judy on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 8:48 am

    The govt have sent troops of police, including traffic police in KL to “manage” the Bersih rally. Instead of doing what they have been ordered to do, the traffic police were more interested in catching petty traffic offenders than maintaining order. In the course of that, they asked for bribes. What a joke! Such an irony! Please have your handphone nearby you to record the whole conversation should you encounter such situation. Yes, we need a clean govt, clean electoral system. The govt’s troops of officials clearly demonstrated this to be so.

  29. #29 by dagen on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 8:49 am

    Picking up on isah’s remark (#3) I now officially rename the home min with a permanent joker’s grin:


    Yeah. Thank you. Thank you.

  30. #30 by Comrade on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 8:54 am

    Corruption in high places swept under the carpet
    Institutions like PDRM and EC being their puppet
    Umno/BN cannot fool the people again and again
    Vote in PR to stop the nation going down the drain

  31. #31 by best4rakyat on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 9:24 am

    What a game we play like many during childhood,sound familiar to many!
    I got this below from my grandchild who study ‘zhong-wen’.


    And I recalled in old times what my uncle a retired from joining police force during emergency times said:”Either you submit to them or you never do.On whatever situation we must have a responsibility as Man with gut to do right things!”

    He told us we may be different but we were not solely to take on the wrong but is our job to defend the right too!He was always our good example though he has passed away.

    Sharing this truth about the above game played as a kid with chinese neighbourhood friends.We had grown up with many understanding as 1Malaysian long ago for our role and right!

    So don’t play play the people with bad intent and power.Live a pride life as a true malaysian leader today for your people.

  32. #32 by balance88 on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 10:04 am

    People wearing yellow, plain yellow mind you, are still stopped by police to query where they are going. A lady wearing a worn out yellow T-shirt meant as a pyjamas on her way to fetch her child from tuition was approached by police in the late evening! What a joke!

    The police are apparently harassing the public with these incidences and with all the police blocks which are causing massive traffic jams even late at night on some stretches of roads.

    The PDRM should uphold peace but need to stop harassing the public through these means. Behaving like a big father punishing a child for insisting on something. Very childish tit-for-tat behavior. Please grow up IGP!

  33. #33 by boh-liao on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 10:48 am

  34. #34 by Loh on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 11:13 am

    Najib said that Bersih has not been registered with the Registrar of Societies and so it is illegal. 1Malaysia too has not been registered with the Registrar of Societies, and it is illegal too. Why has not Hishamuddin arrest people wearing 1Malaysia logo? That is a manifestation of double standards.

    Bersih is a concept, and a concept does not have to take an organization in order for the citizens to assemble to pursue that concept. Article 10 (1b) of the constitution states: all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms. The citizens do not have to organize themselves as societies to assemble. Hishamuddin can declare any concept illegal other than communism, but the non-existent organization cannot be assembling. There is no law to say that a concepts needs to be registered before it can be promoted. Hishamuddin might want to call Bersih communism, and Bersih supporters communists. That could be the way to rule by law.

    It would facilitate traffic management if people intend to go to the stadium can be easily recognized by their attire. But Hishamuddin chose to make it difficult for traffic police to perform their duties by outlawing Bersih outfit. Police have suddenly found weapons in cars. Are robbers becoming active when people are assembling in stadium? Does the police suggest that weapons are being transported to rob at the stadium?

    The words and actions by the Home Minister and the police show that they are reluctant to do their duties expected of them, in providing the conveniences for people to assemble in exercising their right provided under the constitution. They then choose to inconvenience motorists with the roadblocks and then miraculously they found a lot of weapons. It would appear that these weapons were being transported everyday, to perform robberies, so it seems, but the police had not taken any actions to reduce crime rate. It is only when the police chose to inconvenience motorists that they discovered weapons. It is most unlikely that robbers would bring the weapons to rob at the stadium when others are gathered to press for free, fair and clean elections. Hence, fortuitously because of Bersih assembly, police has done its job of reducing crimes. The last Bersih gathered in 2007. So the police had been shirking their duties in between Bersih assemblies. To help bring in the unexpected good work of police, bersih should meet more regularly.

  35. #35 by dagen on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 12:02 pm

    I suspect jib, umno and perkasa will drown in their own plot. They concentrated all their energy and illegal efforts on frustrating the rally this saturday. What they do not want to see is the public display of strength and solidarity by the people via the Bersih movement. But they forgot that the rally is really only meant to be a platform for the people to voice their grave concern on something which is more far reaching and important, i.e. fair and free election. This will go on even after the rally is over.

    So let the party begin people.

  36. #36 by wanderer on Thursday, 7 July 2011 - 1:15 pm

    UMNO and its Kotor bunch, how many innocent true Malaysians do you intend to kill?..and, how many do you think you can silenced?!!
    You have placed us in a position, “Tolerance has reached its limit, fear knows no boundary”…UMNO you are just a bloody buly, bring it on!

  37. #37 by Jeffrey on Friday, 8 July 2011 - 6:11 am

    The police have placed a restriction order on 91 individuals, including organisers of the Bersih 2.0, Perkasa and Umno Youth’s Patriot rallies – and PR’s top leaders Abd Hadi Awang
    Anwar Ibrahim Lim Kit Siang Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat – that they all will be arrested on sight if found in various places on 9th July 2011.

    What it tantamounts to is that all are supposed to stay at home and watch television tomorrow.

    How is any public protest to carry on when all key people were arrested ???

    What is the international image of the Govt if all Opposition top leaders were arrested? No more Opposition?

    Without officially declaring emergency they have actually created indirectly a state equivalent to an emergency here!

  38. #38 by Jeffrey on Friday, 8 July 2011 - 6:25 am

    M<alaysiakini report: "According to the order signed by a Kuala Lumpur Magistrate, the 91 are barred from being along Jalan Syed Putra, Jalan Istana, Jalan Bukit Petaling, Jalan Bellamy and the area surrounding Istana Negara. They are also barred from Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, Jalan Lembah Perdana, Jalan Cenderasari and the area around Masjid Negara. The police also listed Dataran Merdeka, Central Market, Masjid Jamek, Dataran DBKL, Sogo shopping mall, Maju Junction, Kampung Baru mosque, Jalan Kinabalu, Jalan Kuching, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Haji Taib, Jalan Raja Muda Musa, Jalan Raja Bot, Jalan Dang Wangi, Jalan Munshi Abdullah, Jalan Gereja, Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Tun Perak, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Loke, Jalan Sultan Mahmud as restricted areas to the 91."

    What now?

  39. #39 by Jeffrey on Friday, 8 July 2011 - 6:37 am

    Since the Yang Di Pertuan Agong’s advice the parties proposing to march and counter march have evinced intentions to de-escalate & ameliorate tension: eg Bersih says it wants to gather in stadium, UMNO Youth called off march, Perkasa says it would march only if Bersih does!

    However this is not matched by official response: eg stadium venue not approved, road blocks intensified and now this “arrest on sight” restriction order.

    It is apparent some people have other agendas, want the opposite ie to capitalise and escalate the confusion, tension and situation to the level of an emergency. What are they planning ?

  40. #40 by Jeffrey on Friday, 8 July 2011 - 7:04 am

    The restriction order is contrary to Federal contitution’s guarantee of freedom of movement of citizenry. It means if any of the 91 were to go to Sogo shopping Mall to do shopping instead of join Bersih’s protest he still can be arrested! (There’s of course no time to get an appellate court’s decision to overrule the magistrate restrictive order). Interestingly Tian Chua Karpal Singh (not on the list!). Also not much of international media (CNN CNBC Al Jazeera`s News Coverage) on developments here.

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